The book is organized into three main sections: the first four chapters are designed to provide background and a framework for fruitfully examining questions related to religion and the environment in America; chapters 5-7 look at theological and spiritual anthropologies as a way of considering how different religions view the role of the human being in relation to the rest of life; the remaining chapters provide a range of case studies that explore how faith communities are grappling with contemporary environmental and sustainability issues.
Each chapter includes footnotes and various hyperlinks to related material, as well as a bibliography of sources. A set of questions for reflection are included at the end of most chapters, which can be used for discussion sections.
Invitation for Peer Review:
This first edition of the book has been written primarily as a text book for my Ohio State Religion and Environmental Values in America students, and regular student feedback has played (and will continue to play) an important role in shaping the text. However, the book may also be useful to adult study groups and faith communities interested in exploring these topics.
From 2019 to Spring of 2021, I would be deeply grateful for feedback from readers whose interest is to make use of this book within their community as a study resource. For instance, an adult study group within a congregation could select various combinations of the chapters to read and discuss over the course of anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. All of us seeking to be more faithful caretakers of creation are peers in that work, and I would love to receive suggestions about how this material can be more useful or engaging for your community. If you develop activities or additional questions for discussion, or find complementary material or media that can enrich a community’s use of this book, I would be pleased to incorporate your suggestions and improvements into the second edition of the book, which will be completed in the autumn of 2021. At the same time, this first edition of the book assumes a sort of ongoing in-class dialogue that I have with my students, so I am also hoping that readers from beyond Ohio State will let me know where revisions might be needed to help this material connect better with readers far and wide.
As Pope Francis said in his encyclical Laudato Si’, the work of caring for our common home needs a conversation that includes everyone, and calls for a solidarity and a diversity of many minds and bodies working together to reconcile ourselves to one another, to the Earth and all creatures, and to our creator. As a reader or contributor, thank you for adding your thought and care to the dialogue of which this book is a part.
You can submit peer review comments here.
- Notably, both religion and the environment can be tricky topics to discuss in America, and both topics, unfortunately, can trigger reactions typical of liberal-conservative "culture wars" that draw on social and political polarizations in American culture that can derail just about any conversation and render it useless for learning...so these chapters are aimed at setting a level and reasonable playing field to avoid pitfalls and antagonisms that tend to discourage fruitful discussion. ↵
- Anyone reading this in the autumn of 2021 or later will realize that the global pandemic of COVID-19 intervened during this time period, and verily shifted all sorts of plans and intentions. This invitation for peer review remains open, and in the meantime, the work of my students took on additional focus as we all worked to navigate teaching and learning amid the pandemic. What emerged is a forthcoming online book, student-authored, which will be titled "Emerging Perspectives in Religion and Environmental Values in America" and will be published in autumn of 2021. I look forward to linking that book here as soon as it is published! ↵